Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Classical Tragedy of the Iranian Revolution

The Ashura protests in Iran has brought forth a torrent of videos and images, many documented by Andrew Sullivan. It is sad to watch the protesters descending upon the police officers and beat them up. Obama has called them "courageous", but it is hardly courageous when you enjoy an overwhelming numerical advantage, as it was in most of these cop-beating videos. The protesters have crossed an ethical line here. While it is fleetingly satisfying to attack a helpless fellow human being, something humane is lost in the process. I guess it is sad but inevitable in a protest movement, powered by and given over to emotion, that it will turn violent.


[It is courageous to face the supposed omnipotence of the secret police, which is what Obama also means.]

Everything I said earlier, on the topic of the Iranian protest and re-revolution, remains valid.

Looking back, the Iranian Revolution, and the clergy and students who effected it, constitutes a tragedy in the classic sense. They started out well, striking for an Islamic way toward redeeming their country. However, their hubris pushed them toward political expediencies and compromises, until in the end, what remains makes a mockery of Islamic theocracy. The Iranian politburo pursues power for its own sake, even as it believes it is doing god's work. [Thanks to anonymous for pointing out the lack of a Revolutionary Council today.]

Even as they deserve our pity for having fallen, we should strive for their overthrow, for the good of the Iranian people. Proper checks and balances remains the only way to protect the people. We are learning, again, that even the clergy are vulnerable to the corruptions of power.

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